con·​no·​ta·​tion ˌkä-nə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce connotation (audio)
: something suggested by a word or thing : implication
the connotations of comfort that surrounded that old chair
: the suggesting of a meaning by a word apart from the thing it explicitly names or describes
: the signification of something
… that abuse of logic which consists in moving counters about as if they were known entities with a fixed connotation.William Ralph Inge
: an essential property or group of properties of a thing named by a term in logic compare denotation
connotational adjective

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What’s the difference between connotation and denotation ?

Connotation and denotation are easily confused, and the fact that neither word is particularly common in everyday use makes it difficult for many people to get a firm grip on the difference between them. While each of these two words has several possible meanings, they are notably distinct from each other in all senses. Denotation is concerned with explicit meaning, and connotation tends to be concerned with implicit meaning. The word home, for instance, has a denotation of “the place (such as a house or apartment) where a person lives,” but it may additionally have many connotations (such as “warmth,” “security,” or “childhood”) for some people.

Examples of connotation in a Sentence

Miuccia Prada, a connoisseur of vintage jewelry, has a collection of tiaras and subverts their formal connotations by wearing them for the day. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, March 1997
Suddenly, Hsun-ching brightened. "So this is propaganda?" Alison did not know that, in Chinese, the word for propaganda literally means to spread information, and does not carry any negative connotations. Mark Salzman, The Laughing Sutra, 1991
The word "evolution," with its connotation of unrolling, of progressive development, was not favored by Darwin; he preferred the bleak phrase "descent with modification" for his theory. John Updike, New Yorker, 30 Dec. 1985
a word with negative connotations For many people, the word “fat” has negative connotations. The word “childlike” has connotations of innocence. See More
Recent Examples on the Web In my opinion, internal, negative connotations of Black hair textures are derived– in part– from the pain of doing our hair– especially detangling. India Espy-Jones, Essence, 17 Nov. 2023 Barili said that oftentimes things associated with the streets have a negative connotation and can be associated with violence and gangs. Chelsea Hylton, Los Angeles Times, 8 Nov. 2023 In the past, some of those awards might have had a negative connotation. Don Norcross, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Oct. 2023 Long reserved for the preppy look, pearls are shedding their bourgeois connotations to assert their fashion potential on the catwalks that count. Jessica Scemama, Glamour, 19 Oct. 2023 At the news conference, Labrada’s attorney, Jeremy Tissot, accused news outlets of rushing to judgment and mischaracterizing Labrada’s actions as stalking — a label that carries a dark connotation. Libor Jany, Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2023 The term is completely neutral and holds no derogatory connotations. Thaddeus Cramer, Parents, 13 Sep. 2023 And though pink might be thought of as stereotypically girlish, the color’s connotations have changed alongside the generations that have grown up with Barbie. Anne Branigin, Washington Post, 15 July 2023 When Guy is writing for himself on his site, his work is decidedly focused on the connotations of aesthetic. James Powel, USA TODAY, 3 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'connotation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see connote

First Known Use

1532, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of connotation was in 1532

Dictionary Entries Near connotation

Cite this Entry

“Connotation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​no·​ta·​tion ˌkän-ə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce connotation (audio)
: a meaning suggested by a word or an expression in addition to its exact meaning
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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